Last month I reported on a Marlburian scenario and this is the 'return match'. The Comte de Salle Forde had been given the task of securing a bridgehead over the upper reaches of the River Dyle in preparation for a forthcoming siege. Crossing by the ford at Vache Bas he had begun work constructing defences, but this was only partly completed when a force under Graf Von Grommitt appeared.
Seeing that he was outnumbered almost 2 to 1 in infantry and his opponent had more guns and a brigade of cavalry; the Comte quickly dispatched a messenger requesting reinforcements. The young officer crossed the ford and rode off to the west.
The Comte made his dispositions; Bavaria, Zurlaben and Dragoons de Wettigny manning the works and Languedoc in reserve. His artillery was on the left with Bavaria. Von Grommitt arranged his infantry in three columns; on his right two battalions of grenadiers,(Hesse and Palatinate), in the centre three battalions of Hessians (Lownestein, Wartenslaben and Erbprinz) and on his let the battalions Palatinate and Von Blitzenkron. Further to the left were the allied cavalry (Jung Hannover, Erbach and Veningen Gendarmes). The artillery supported the infantry attack.
As the Allied infantry advanced they began to suffer casualties. Hardest hit were the Palatinate grenadiers who were the target for the French artillery. In the centre the Hessians came in musketry range and Lowenstein was forced to halt to dress its ranks before continuing the advance. However the French did not have everything their own way. Bavaria suffered casualties from the Allied artillery and its musketry was badly affected, being insufficient to stop the oncoming grenadiers.
A musketry duel began and the dragoons and Zurlaben stood to their task, it was the Bavarians, who had the benefit of the completed works who were struggling and the Comte decided to move his reserve to the right to support them.
Both commanders were surprised to receive messages that cavalry with infantry support was advancing towards them on the eastern bank of the Dyle. The Comte was delighted when he saw that they were French reinforcements, Von Grommitt's thoughts have not been recorded! With time short, the allied attack was pressed home and a melee developed for the works.
Meanwhile, the allied cavalry sought to defeat their French opponents and stop any infantry support reaching Salle Forde. As the cavalry combat developed fortunes ebbed and flowed. The Veningen Gendarmes initially pushed back the Spanish Horse, but the latters greater numbers eventually told and the Gendarmes routed. The combat between Jung Hannover and Vaillac went the way of the Austrian cuirassiers, but as the French cavalry broke the Austrians surged after them, leaving the field. Erbach and Aubusson fought fiercely, but the Germans cracked and this left the flank of the allied infantry in peril.
At the works the Palatinate grenadiers had quickly defeated Bavaria and were now faced by Languedoc. In the centre Zurlaben had driven off Lowenstein, but Erbprinz fired a devastating volley and charged forward. Outnumbered, the French were driven back and the Hessians entered the works. The French pride was saved by the dragoons who fought off Von Blitzenkron. The dragoons were helped by Von Gromitt who had moved the supporting Palatinate battalion to cover the flank of the allied infantry. As the allied cavalry streamed from the field a second battalion, Wartenslaben was also moved to the flank.
Von Grommitt thought that two battalions wold be enough, but Aubusson moved quickly towards the works. Palatinate were caught before they could fire a volley. In a trice all order was lost and groups left the ranks seeking sanctuary from the cavalry. As the battalion dissolved they were driven back on Wartenslaben. This unit was disorganised by the fleeing infantry and was unable to halt the French advance. Victory had been snatched from Von Gromitt's grasp. He had secured majority of the works and controlled the ford, if the cavalry had done their job the day would have been his. Instead his infantry were penned in the works, joined by his gunners who had abandoned their pieces to enemy cavalry. The enemy now outnumbered him in all arms and all he could do was sue for terms.
For the Comte, who had taken upon himself the task of rallying Bavaria (on the far bank of the Dyle), it was essential to accept the allied surrender before Saint Evremond (who commanded the French relief force), snatched all the glory; after all wasn't it his infantry who had done all the fighting?
For this scenario we tried using the revised '1644' rules which give army lists for the Marlburian period. It was an interesting experiment, giving quite a different feel to that experienced with the Wargames Holiday Centre rules. The cavalry melee is dealt with much better in 1644, but you lose the requirement that your infantry need to keep in formation to preserve their morale.
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